Five European transfers you might have missed: Weigl, Alena, Behrami
The transfer window may have only just opened, but a number of intriguing deals have already taken place around Europe.
Erling Braut Haaland’s move to Borussia Dortmund and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to AC Milan have been the most eye-catching deals of the window so far.
But we’ve picked out five moves that may have gone under the radar.
Dortmund’s signing of Weigl in 2015 was lauded as securing one of the best young talents in German football. The midfielder had captained 1860 Munich at the age of just 18 and was compared to Pep Guardiola by Lothar Matthaus such was his immediate influence in dictating Dortmund’s play under Thomas Tuchel.
But when Tuchel left the club, Weigl quickly found himself out of favour under successive coaches, often being deployed in defence, and tried his best to engineer a reunion with Tuchel at PSG. Manchester City were also credited with an interest.
The 24-year-old has finally got his wish with a move away from Dortmund, but rather than a high-profile switch to a Champions League contender, he has instead joined Benfica in a deal worth around £17million.
Julian Weigl’s goal against Sporting for Borussia Dortmund.
Benfica fans will be hoping for more of this in the derby! pic.twitter.com/EHFb30t8In
— Próxima Jornada (@ProximaJornada1) December 31, 2019
Another highly-rated young midfielder, Alena has been in and around Barcelona’s first team for around three and a half years now.
Last season he made 27 appearances in all competitions, only to play just five times over the first half of 2019-20, publicly bemoaning his lack of opportunities.
As a result, the 21-year-old has joined Real Betis on loan until the end of the season, joining an incredibly fun midfield that also features Nabil Fekir, Sergio Canales and Joaquin.
A familiar face in England thanks to his spells with West Ham and Watford, Behrami endured a strange second half of 2019.
In July, he returned to Switzerland to join Sion from Udinese but had his contract terminated by mutual consent just three months later.
The 34-year-old is now back in Serie A after joining Genoa for a second time, after first making his name in Italy with the club 16 years ago.
After helping River Plate win the Copa Libertadores in 2018 and breaking into the Argentina squad, Palacios has made the move to Europe this month by joining Bayer Leverkusen for €22million.
“We’ve watched Exequiel Palacios for a long time and he’s really impressed us,” Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said upon the signing. “Despite his young age he’s already achieved a great deal and in addition to his footballing qualities, he’s got a terrific mentality.”
Palacios is linking up with a former River team-mate in Luis Alario, while Charles Aranguiz, Paulinho and Wendell complete a large South American contingent at Bayer.
Not the former Porto striker, but rather the former Benfica defender whose career path in recent years has left us scratching our heads.
The centre-back was signed by Benfica in 2013 after breaking into the Argentina squad but spent his first season at the club on loan at Getafe.
Over the next three and a half seasons he made 54 appearances in all competitions for Benfica, never reaching the 20-game mark in a single campaign.
Yet he still found himself being signed on loan by Inter in January 2018, where he made all of one appearance, and it was the same story at Genoa the following campaign, with his season-long loan terminated at the halfway stage after playing a solitary game.
The 30-year-old returned to Argentina in 2019 with a loan move to Boca Juniors, and that deal has now been made permanent, bringing an end to a confusing time in Europe.